Follow me here. It was crazy scary…
It started mildly; it was first observed to be only a tropical depression. A tropical depression is a tropical cyclone that has maximum sustained surface winds of 38 mph or less. But within 48 hours, there was an unexpected, rapid intensification. Sustained winds began to exceed 180 mph. It was a Category 5 hurricane.
To be labeled a Category 5, that means forecasters don’t suspect there will be damage; it means that “catastrophic damage will occur. A high percentage of framed homes will be destroyed, with total roof failure and wall collapse. Fallen trees and power poles will isolate residential areas. Power outages will last for weeks to possibly months. Most of the area will be uninhabitable for weeks or months.”1
Note that to reach such a severe, sobering categorization, sustained winds need “only” reach 157 mph or higher. We are talking at least 20 mph more.
According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), only five storms on record have jumped from a depression to a Category 5 in such a short time period. It then was expected to make a direct hit in a heavily populated area. Not only was it expected to hit, its path was so unusual — one that would seemingly maximize the time spent over the affected land area — that maximum damage potential was also feared. Hundreds of thousands of persons were thus evacuated prior to landfall.
From those who were aware when it was happening…
… absolutely stunning…
… nothing short of explosive…
… very impressive imagery of this beast…
Friends, I continue to conclude that while we think we’re knowledgeable and well-informed, we are often only well-informed about that which is closest to us. Things that aren’t on our radar — meteorological or otherwise — are totally capable of instead being the object of our ignorance.
The storm identified above — one of the strongest storms ever recorded on Earth, with gusts approaching 200 mph — didn’t happen years ago; it happened at the end of last week.
Were we aware?
Maybe we are paying tons of attention to Afghanistan. What’s going on there is awful, whether people want us to pay attention to it or not.
Maybe we are paying tons of attention to Covid, the masks and the mandates — also an awful situation — infusing a whole new energy into the emotionally-charged “my body/my choice” debate.
My point is that we pick and choose what we pay attention to. The media picks and chooses what they — hopefully for them, we — pay attention to. And there are so many serious things happening on this planet of which most of us aren’t even aware.
What are we missing, friends?
We’re in the middle of the 2021 Pacific typhoon season. There are no set seasonal boundaries, though most tropical cyclones develop between May and October. Super typhoon Chanthu (same as a hurricane) developed off the coast of the Philippines on Sunday, Sept. 5th. It quickly intensified in the Philippine Sea area of the Pacific. Having family in that area, noting the thunderous, dangerous winds, we were very aware.
But the storm was over 9,000 miles away. And even though it was predicted to be “catastrophic,” I didn’t hear or read a single word about it from any lead news host nor post. I had to Google what to know. I was thus only aware because the issue was near and dear to me. That tells me there is undoubtedly far more of which we are unaware.
What are we unaware of? What don’t we know?
And what — as we’re distracted by other, even valid passions and objects of attention — are we simply ignorant about? What other stunning, serious “storms”?
It’s scary, friends… crazy scary. And I’m not talking about a hurricane.
1National Hurricane Center and Central Pacific Hurricane Center, NOAA, Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale